Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler visits California
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The California City Hall Public Meeting Room was filled for a town hall meeting by U.S. Fourth District Rep. Vicky Hartzler Wednesday, Aug. 10.
More than 50 people came out on a day of intermittent rain to hear from and question Rep. Hartzler on the activities in Washington, D.C. The session began with a Power Point presentation with commentary before she opened the floor to questions.
Questions ranged from general questions about taxes, spending and balanced budgets to specific concerns about Medicare for those under 55, new regulations by E.P.A., foreign aid, the military and the Social Security system.
According to Hartzler the debt and insecurity concerning the economy prevent job growth, because small businesses are where most of the jobs are created. The debt, which stands at more than $14 trillion threatens job growth, national security and the future of American children.
"Washington spends too much,"Hartzler said, so she voted against the authorization to increase the debt limit.
While it called for $7 billion in spending cuts, it was less than two days worth of borrowing since spending increased $4 billion a day. "We've got to do more," she said.
In 1970, only five percent of the debt was held by foreign interests. Now its 47 percent, with China alone holding more than 29 percent.
Since 49 of 50 states have some type of balanced budget in their state Constitutions and polling indicates 75 percent of American favor a balanced budget amendment, Hartzler said she would vote for a balanced budget amendment. The original bill she voted for required a balanced budget amendment be sent to the states before another increase in the debt ceiling.
Hartzler explained her vote against raising the debt ceiling, saying, "I didn't feel it went far enough. It will cut $7 billion next year, but borrows $4 billion a day. That's less than two days of savings. We must do better."
One constituent asked Hartzler if she would have voted "no" on the debt limit increase if it would have been the deciding vote on defaulting on the debt.
Hartzler said the country would not have defaulted since money comes in to make the payments on money owed as well as other required payments, such as Social Security. She said the problem is spending, not revenue.
A related question was asked about her support of the "Ryan Plan" which failed to pass, concerning Social Security. Hartzler explained that Social Security tax payments go into General Revenue, then are credited to Social Security. She also said it was not good for some of the Washington officials to have attempted to frighten people about Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid.
"Until last year, there was more in than out," she said. "In 2037, it is estimated that all of the IOU's will have been spent."
Hartzler said no decisions were made about Social Security in the bill. It just said Social Security needs to be studied by the Social Security Trustees to fix the system.
A related question was asked about health insurance. Hartzler said that under the Ryan Plan there was a possibility of people participating in the federal health insurance plan, with the government assisting with premiums.
"Is this the final answer?" Hartzler asked. "I don't know," she answered.
She commented that many want to keep "kicking the can down the road for the next nine years." While that can be done, Hartzler said it doesn't fix anything.
For an example of what is happening, Hartzler went over a slide titled "If the Government were a family" in her Power Point presentation. The numbers put the national monetary situation in more understandable terms.
It showed a family with an annual income of $58,700, spending of $75,000 and credit card debt of $327,000. She said the "big cuts" proposed amount to $3,000 for next year, reducing spending to $72,000. She said that means that instead of borrowing $16,300 next year, the family would add the borrowed $12,300 to the debt, plus of course the interest on the debt.
One constituent commented that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is out of control and making regulations that are preventing any kind of recovery. Another said the EPA regulations of greenhouse gases should be cut and foreign aid needed to be examined.
Hartzler said Congress has been working on reducing EPA's budget and is looking into foreign aid, with seven countries being cut from the list so far. Asked about Pakistan, Hartzler said that is a complicated situation, with some on the country helping the U.S. and others working against the U.S.
One comment was about the S&P downgrade. Hartzler said the country had been warned, but failed to heed the warning to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion in the next decade. As a result, it was downgraded by Standard and Poors.
A local business owner said there were some "disincentives" in the system. He spoke of a person who declined a job because he could make more drawing unemployment and other public assistance.
A retiree commented that corporations should not pay taxes, as Paul Harvey said. Instead, the investors should pay earned income taxes instead of dividend taxes, since the rate is higher.
Yet another constituent with specific knowledge of the furniture business commented that many furniture manufacturing companies have gone out of business or moved their plants overseas. She asked about raising barriers on imports from overseas companies.
"If we put barriers on imports, then they put barriers on our exports," Hartzler said.
She said agriculture products, major exports of the U.S., are important to Missouri.
As Hartzler prepared to leave for a similar meeting in Versailles, she said, "As you hear things, call our office and ask if it's true."
Hartzler's phone numbers are, Jefferson City - (573) 634-4884, and Washington, D.C. - (202) 225-2876.
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